Recently, I was reading the story of Joshua and the Israelites crossing the Jordan River.
For the last 40 years, the lives of the Israelites in the desert had been consistent – manna in the morning, the cloud by day and the fire by night and even their shoes lasted forever! But this was all changing now. They were standing on the border, ready to cross over the river into the land that had been set aside for them, from the past to the future and from what they had known to what was unknown.
This sounded just like us over these past few months. Our lives, on track just a short time ago (or so we thought) have been changed in so many ways and we too are facing unchartered territory ahead.
In Joshua 3:6, the priests were commanded to take up the ark and pass on ahead of the people into the water. As they obeyed, the Jordan River, now in full tide, subsided and allowed them to step into the water. Joshua commanded the priests to stop in the middle of the Jordan ( Joshua 3:17 ) while all of the people passed by until the whole nation of around three million people had crossed over. And then in Joshua 4:11, the ark and the priests were commanded to come in behind the people and step onto the other side of the Jordan River.
God’s amazing miracle of holding back the water was repeated again as it had been in the Red Sea crossing 40 years earlier. At the Jordan, the priests carried the ark ahead of the people, it was held in the middle of the river while they went through and then it followed behind.
And as I read the story of the Israelites and asked for the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to bring fresh revelation, I began to see the similarities between the Israelites then and our own circumstances today. I saw a new perspective on this story.
In the Old Testament times, the ark represented the power and the glory and the presence of God. When the ark was present, success was certain and when it was not, defeat was likely. And that is what struck me as I read the story again – God’s presence was with His people before they went in the river, it was beside His people while they were in the Jordan and it was behind His people as they came out. He goes before us, God is the captain of our salvation. He goes with us – He is Emmanuel and He follows after us, protecting us from behind. Isn’t that the same for us? We can trust in God to be there in every situation that we face. We can trust that, as we step out in His will, God will go ahead of us, He will be with us and He will continue to protect us.